Herman Suizo
SPORTS EYE - Raffy Uytiepo (The Freeman) - June 16, 2020 - 12:00am

My “kumpare” Relly Mercado who ran from Baguio City to Manila in the early 1990s (ultramarathons were still unheard of then), suggested that I should be writing a book based on my over forty years of experience as a sportsman. Well, during the Covid-19 lockout, I tried reviving some memories, writing running stories that centered on world champions and celebrities like Bill Rodgers, Waldemar Cierspinki, Katie Switzer and Tegla Loroupe that I personally met.

Well, I’m still not ready to write a book but I could write on our country’s long distance runners. For this issue, I’m writing about my ward and former national marathon record holder Herman Suizo. I first met Suizo in 1983 when he upset his idol and mentor, Jimmy Dela Torre, who won the Sea Games marathon crown in 1981. In the Iloilo Bombo Marathon, Suizo is from Sta. Barbara, a sleepy town 20 kilometers from IloIlo City and a place where everybody plays football (Baratoc, Iloilo is the country’s goldmine of football players). Before he was hooked to running, Suizo played football in his hometown where he was called “Spike”, because he wore spike shoes. On our first meeting, I knew Suizo will be a force to reckon with in the marathon if given the right support and training.  

In 1986, I convinced Suizo to come with me to Manila where he could hone up his skills against strong runners like Primo Ramos and Mario Castro of Gintong Alay.  After a year of competition and always securing a place in the top ten, I told Suizo he has to improve or better win a major title. Then in 1988, I was asked by then former Tourism Secretary Tony Gonzalez of Mondragon Industries, then the distributors of Nike shoes in the Philippines to form a competitive team for the PAL Marathon. I took in Jimmy De la Torre, (3-time Milo Marathon and 3-time Alay ng Pangulo champion), Pilipinas International Marathon  Filipino  champion, Arturo Angel and Magnolia Half Marathon champion Alvin Miraflores, as members of the Nike Running Club that would become the country’s winningest team. 

I also warned Suizo that if he still cannot win, I will send him back to Iloilo. So, in that year’s 1988 PAL Marathon, Suizo upset the seeded Primo Ramos of the Philippine Navy to emerge the first Filipino finisher. Our club also won the team championship. In 1989, Suizo joined Gintong Alay and in 1991 won the Sea Games Marathon crown In Manila. Also in 1991, Suizo established the National marathon record when he clocked 2:19:50 in the Seoul International Marathon, a mark that stood for over ten years until another Ilonggo, Vertek Buenavista broke it in 2004, by clocking 2:18:44 In the Tokyo Internatioanl Marathon. Suizo represented the country in 1992 Barcelona Olympics and finished a respectable 52nd place with a time of 2:25:18,the best clocking for a Filipino runner in the Olympics.Suizo who is now 61 years old is currently retired in his hometown in Iloilo.

Did you know?

DIRK NOWITZKI of Germany is one of our sports ed Manny Villaruel’s favorites. One of Nowitzki’s first chances to showcase his talent came when he played on the 1996 German National Team, German under-22 National Team and European Junior Select team. In 1998, he became an NBA first round pick and in 2000, he was selected to participate in the Schick Rookie Challenge during the All-Star Weekend. By 2002-2003, Nowitzki was the sixth most prolific scorer in the league, averaging 25.1 ppg for the Dallas Mavericks and was selected to the NBA All-Star Game for the third time. Nowitzki’s boyhood idol, Scottie Pippen said that he’s probably the only seven-footer power forward that can sink three-pointers and drive to the hoop with ease. When he first arrived in the NBA, Pippen was known as the “sidekick” to basketball’s greatest star, Michael Jordan, creating a partnership the Chicago bulls turned into an NBA dynasty with six titles in the 1990s. But without Pippen, could Jordan win it all?

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